TIME movies

See What It’s Like to Hunt Down YouTube Stars as Terminator With This Virtual Reality 360 Video

Thoroughly enjoyable

YouTube have teamed up with Paramount Studios and virtual reality (VR) production company Specular Theory to produce a 360-degree video that lets viewers be the Terminator, Variety reports.

The three-minute clip was uploaded by Lilly Singh (a.k.a IISuperwomanII) Monday and features other famous YouTubers—like Olga Kay, Matthew Santoro and Toby Turner—being hunted down by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s killer robot as he goes on a rampage through YouTube’s studios in Los Angeles, reports Variety.

Terminator Genisys: The YouTube Chronicles in 360 is a promotional project for the latest Terminator movie, which is out July 1.

The plot for the 360 video is simple and introduced by Arnie himself: a new Terminator has been sent from the future and it’s up to the YouTube stars to defeat him.

Viewers can watch the video with Google Cardboard’s VR viewer or on a phone, tilting it to explore different angles from the Terminator’s point of view, Variety says.

YouTube added support for VR videos to its site earlier this month.

[Variety]

TIME Gadgets

Here’s When Sony’s Virtual Reality Headset Is Coming Out

Project Morpheus Sony VR E3 2015
Bloomberg via Getty Images A member of the media plays a video game using a Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Project Morpheus virtual-reality headset during a demonstration in Tokyo, Japan, on April 6, 2015.

30 games in development for Project Morpheus

Sony’s virtual reality headset for PlayStation is set to launch in the first half of 2016, according to a new report.

Project Morpheus, which will sell for “several hundred dollars,” will be one of the highlights during Sony’s presentation at this week’s E3 2015 gaming convention in Los Angeles, Calif., Wired reports. At least 20 games and experiences will be showcased during the presentation, scheduled for Monday at 6:00 p.m. PT.

Sony has a broad range of genres planned for the VR headset, according to Adam Boyes, Sony’s VP of publisher and developer relations. The company is tracking the development of 30 games for Project Morpheus, from small puzzle games to first-person exploration games.

Other VR headsets are also gearing up for their releases, including the highly anticipated Oculus Rift, which will open to pre-orders later this year for a shipping date in Q1 2016.

[Wired]

TIME Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality Star Wars Will Be a Thing

Star Wars Exhibition Previews In Melbourne
Scott Barbour—Getty Images Lynne Kosky (L), Victoria's Minister for Public Transport and Minister for the Arts has a lightsaber battle with an actor dressed as Darth Vader during a preview to the 'Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination' exhibition at Scienceworks on June 2, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.

ILM is building a VR lab

If you love Star Wars, you’ve seen the incredible work that special effects company Industrial Light & Magic does in creating amazing characters and special effects. Now, the company founded by George Lucas wants to make the cinema experience even more immersive by bringing virtual reality technology into the mix.

The project is called the ILM Experience Lab, and will put viewers directly into the world of their favorite films, USA Today reports.

“ILMxLab is all about us leveraging our skills across all platforms,” Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy told the newspaper. “It’s the Wild West out there with new frontiers, and we’re all figuring out these new tools. Today, technology is in search of content. But we can bring an emotional experience to that technology.”

The first products this new division creates are expected to be related to Star Wars and debut later this year. The next film in the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens, debuts in December.

TIME Video Games

Here’s How Mark Zuckerberg Explains Virtual Reality

The Oculus Rift is arranged for a photograph during the Oculus VR Inc. "Step Into The Rift" event in San Francisco,   California, U.S., on Thursday, June 11, 2015. Facebook Inc.'s Oculus virtual-reality headsets will work with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 10 and use the software maker's wireless Xbox game controller. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg  *** Local Caption *** Palmer Luckey
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg The Oculus Rift is arranged for a photograph during the Oculus VR Inc. "Step Into The Rift" event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 11, 2015.

It's 'like you’re actually there'

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out his vision for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset in a Facebook post on Thursday that has racked up 70,081 likes and counting. Facebook bought the company behind the Rift, Oculus VR, last year in a deal worth $2 billion.

Zuckerberg hailed the device as so much more than a gaming console with head straps, arguing that it could be used to transport users into three-dimensional movies and virtual social settings with their friends.

“When you put on the Rift, you’ll be able to experience immersive virtual environments that create the feeling of ‘presence’ – like you’re actually there,” Zuckerberg wrote.

He continued:

“We developed state-of-the-art custom display technology to create immersive visuals, and precise head tracking, so you can move naturally in virtual environments. We integrated high quality VR audio into the Rift to convince your ears that you’re really there. And we invested a lot of effort in making the headset light, comfortable and easy to wear. Putting on the Rift is as easy as putting on a baseball cap.”

Oculus’ Rift headset will release in early 2016. Oculus has not yet disclosed the price for a headset.

TIME Video Games

How the Oculus Rift Could Help Xbox Crush PlayStation

Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift Oculus Rift

It's all about Windows 10

No one expected this: Oculus VR said Thursday its Rift virtual reality headset will ship with Microsoft’s Xbox One controller as the Rift’s de facto way to play games.

Yes, there’s a crazy new contraption called Oculus Touch, hyped by founder Palmer Luckey himself during Thursday’s Oculus VR presser. The Touch looks like a pair of left/right Fitbits glommed onto Wii U nunchucks. It’s at least one possible future for VR input, if Luckey has his druthers. But let’s talk about the Oculus/Xbox One gamepad partnership, because in my view, the reason it’s happening at all is pretty straightforward when you think about Windows 10.

Oculus Rift has been a PC-centric technology from the outset. Maybe that changes in half a decade and we’ll all be dongled in to our smartphones or tablets. But today, if you want to tango with the half dozen head-mounted conceptual thingies scrambling to vie for our hearts and wallets, you generally need a good ol’ fashioned computer. And what do the lion’s share of good ol’ fashioned computers run now? Microsoft Windows.

Microsoft’s Xbox One gamepad, whether you agree with Palmer Luckey’s contentious claim that it’s the best controller in gaming (“It just is,” he said, as if his words might subliminally objectify reality on the spot), is certainly the best gamepad Redmond’s crafted to date. And it’s formally part of the Windows ecosystem, driver and developer supported and backward compatible with anything that worked with the company’s old Xbox 360 controller. It’s how you game with a gamepad in Windows right now as well as how you will when Windows 10 finally arrives this summer (sure, you can jury rig Sony’s DualShock 4 PlayStation 4 controller to work with Windows, but Sony doesn’t offer its own Windows drivers).

So in hindsight, not having some sort of partnership with Microsoft ought to have been the head-scratcher. If we assume Oculus Rift’s early adopters are going to be predominantly PC gamers — and I’d bet almost anything that’s going to be the case given how not consumer-friendly as well as culturally exotic these headsets are going to be for non-geeks — then the Xbox One deal becomes a natural corollary.

 

Folding the Rift into the Xbox One ecosystem then becomes just a baby step sideways. That’s especially true when you factor in Microsoft’s plan to load Windows 10 onto its dedicated gaming system in the near future, solidifying its promise to have a single, unified operating architecture across all of its platforms (both a first for Microsoft as well as anything else in gaming).

Where the Rift-Xbox partnership goes down the road, by all means speculate freely. But it’s an unambiguous coup for Microsoft — or the Facebook-owned Oculus, depending whom you think’s the more important water-carrier.

And however well Sony’s PlayStation 4 has been doing sales-wise, the Oculus-Microsoft news has to be chilling for the company’s own VR effort, Project Morpheus, confined to Sony’s platforms. That, and given how competent HTC’s Windows-centric Vive VR headset looks already, at this point…well, Windows has been a continuous, indefatigable, interface-leaping platform, whereas the PlayStations have all been devices-of-the-moment. That Oculus is thinking about this in those terms is why you should, too. Because this is bigger than the console wars trope, and it’s why challenging Microsoft in the long term is about so much more than monthly platform sales.

TIME Video Games

Here’s When You Can Buy Oculus’s Long-Awaited Virtual Reality Headset

Inside The 2014 E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo
Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg/Getty Images An attendee wears an Oculus VR Inc. Rift Development Kit 2 headset to play a video game during the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

Oculus is also working on its own controllers

A consumer version of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is set to be released in the first quarter of next year, Oculus VR confirmed at a pre-E3 event Thursday. The Facebook-owned company has not yet revealed the Rift’s price, but it’s expected to cost upwards of $1,000 including a computer capable of powering the device.

Oculus Rift also announced a partnership with Microsoft that will mean players will be able to stream Xbox One games to the Rift headset via a computer running Windows 10.

The Rift will be packaged with the Xbox One controller, letting gamers control their characters through a familiar interface. However, Oculus also announced it’s working on its own controllers specifically designed for interacting with a virtual environment, though it isn’t clear if they will cost gamers extra.

The partnership between Microsoft and the Facebook-owned Oculus VR will give Microsoft a second toehold in the market for virtual and augmented reality headsets. Microsoft is also working on the HoloLens, an augmented reality headset that will work with the company’s upcoming Windows 10 software. However, where the HoloLens is being pitched as a productivity and content consumption tool, Oculus’ Thursday demonstration made it clear the Rift is primarily a gaming device.

Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2 billion in a deal that closed last summer.

 

 

TIME Innovation

Google’s Ultra-Cheap Virtual Reality Now Works With iPhones

Google Cardboard iPhone VR
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images An attendee inspects Google Cardboard during the 2015 Google I/O conference on May 28, 2015 in San Francisco, Calif.

The headset costs around $20

Google released Cardboard for iOS to the App Store on Friday, officially bringing the company’s ultra-cheap virtual reality to iPhones.

The free app, which works in conjunction with a DIY mount costing about $20, is available for the iPhone 5 and above, and early reviews report a smooth experience. Google also unveiled at the annual I/O 2015 developer’s conference this week several other new changes to Cardboard, including supporting phones sized up to six inches.

Cardboard, unveiled last year at I/O 2014, was originally designed for Android phones and available on only Google Play — though that didn’t stop iPhone users from coming up with creative ways to use Cardboard with their iPhones.

TIME Soccer

Women’s Teams Now Feature in Soccer Game FIFA 16 but in Real Life Have Second-Class Status

What happens on screen is a far cry from real life

For the first time, EA Sports will feature women soccer players in its hugely popular FIFA video-game series.

FIFA 16, which launches in September, includes 12 of the top women’s international teams — USA, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain and Sweden.

The video game has only featured men’s teams since it was first released in 1993.

However, as welcome as EA Sports’ announcement is, Mashable points out that while the women’s teams are “in the game” on screen, in real life they fall far behind the men’s teams in the way they are treated by soccer’s governing body.

In the upcoming Women’s World Cup, beginning June 6 in Canada, the women’s teams will have to play on artificial turf fields, instead of actual grass.

No men’s World Cup has ever been played on synthetic surfaces and many of the women’s teams feel it is gender discrimination. Playing on the fake turf puts them at a higher risk of injury.

A group of the sport’s top female players filed legal action against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association last year but had to end their challenge in January because FIFA stalled for so long that it was too late to potentially change the pitches in time for the championship.

“This being the pinnacle of our sport, we feel like we should be treated just like the men,” U.S. forward Abby Wambach told the New York Times last year.

EA Sports’ announcement comes as FIFA finds itself snared in a huge corruption scandal that has seen 14 senior officials arrested on charges of bribery, fraud, and money laundering.

TIME Google

Google Is Bringing Virtual Reality to the Classroom

Sundar Pichai, senior vice-president of Products for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014. Google Inc. executives are taking the stage this week to talk about a plethora of new technologies, including automobiles, home automation, digital TV, Web-connected devices and a new version of Android. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Sundar Pichai
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP Sundar Pichai, senior vice-president of Products for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014.

Super-cheap VR has found a home

In 2014, Google made a virtual reality viewer out of cardboard. In 2015, it’s turning it into a teaching tool for school classrooms.

The Google Cardboard headset, which is mostly made out of cardboard and works with Android phones and special apps, turned out to be a hit beyond just a gimmick at the company’s developer conference last year. Clay Bavor, Google vice president of product management said on-stage at this year’s Google I/O conference Thursday that it’s shipped more than 1 million cardboard headsets in the past year. There are also hundreds of cardboard-compatible apps in Google’s app store.

But now, Google is bringing is cheap and easy set to the classroom, helping teachers take their students on virtual field trips with Cardboard units, mobile devices, and software.

Dubbed “Expeditions,” Google’s program is partnering with organizations such as the Planetary Society and the American Museum of Natural History for content. Through Expeditions, teachers will receive a kit for their classrooms which will include cardboard viewers for each student, Android phones, a tablet, and pre-installed software that will keep all the viewers synced together. All the teacher has to do is get the virtual field trip going on their device to send the whole class on a trip together.

Bavor also said Google is releasing a new version of its cardboard viewer, which will now support phones with 6-inch displays and all Android phone models (it previously only fit certain ones). It will also only require three steps to assemble instead of 12.

TIME Autos

Watch BMW Test Driverless Cars and Virtual Reality

With tech companies on its heel, the top premium car maker taps the Internet to try and win the next race

Automakers have never had so much in common with Silicon Valley. Car makers are increasingly relying on technology to develop, market and sell cars to consumers. In fact, most of the world’s major auto companies established research and development labs of one sort or another in the Bay Area. BMW and Volkswagen set up shop there in 1998, General Motors in 2006, Toyota and Ford in 2012, Renault-Nissan in 2013. The automotive industry spends some $100 billion globally on R&D annually, about 16% of the world’s total for all industries.

Likewise, Bay Area firms are also increasingly interested in autos. Ever since the dawn of the personal computer, Silicon Valley has been inventing or reinventing new gadgets: the music player, the phone, the computer first as a phone and, later, as a tablet. Amazon remade the mall. Netflix and YouTube remade TV. Elon Musk’s Tesla notwithstanding, the last great remaining American preoccupation that tech hasn’t widely tackled is the automobile.

MORE: See Inside BMW’s Secret Design Lab

But automakers have a significantly more difficult task integrating technology into their vehicles. Where a new version of an Android phone, for example, might be reasonably expected to last its owner two or three years, most cars are on the roads for decades. That means built-in technology has to last over a much longer time fame. Legislation, as the fights over Tesla’s dealership model and Google’s self-driving cars have shown, can be limiting. And some high-tech bells and whistles simply never take. For every innovation like GPS navigation, there’s a numeric key pad.

In this video, TIME looks at how the top-selling premium manufacturer BMW is exploring new technology ranging from self-driving vehicles to virtual reality in an effort to keep pace with the competition.

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